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Indians, the Beaver, and the Bay: The Economics of Depletion in the Lands of the Hudson's Bay Company, 1700–1763

  • Ann M. Carlos (a1) and Frank D. Lewis (a2)
Abstract

Indians depleted the beaver, yet we do not understand why. We analyzed the pattern and determinants of beaver exploitation in the hinterlands of three Hudson's Bay Company posts. Simulating beaver population, we found declining beaver stock within each hinterland, but overharvesting in only two. Central to this process was the Company reaction to French competition. Managers raised prices in the Albany and York hinterlands, and in response the Indians increased their harvests. Churchill, which did not experience French competition, had more stable fur prices and showed no evidence of overexploitation of the beaver.

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The Journal of Economic History
  • ISSN: 0022-0507
  • EISSN: 1471-6372
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